The Cotswolds are the third largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, covering some 790 square miles. This is the best known section of the band of oolitic limestone which stretches from Dorset to the Humber. Oolitic limestone, used as building material for centuries, is what defines the Cotswolds. It is everywhere, from fine churches to over 4,000 miles of stone walls.
Preservation of our surroundings is largely in the hands of the Cotswold Conservation Board, based in Northleach, and its voluntary offshoot, the Cotswold Wardens, whose work has a hugely positive effect across the Cotswolds and throughout the Wychwoods.
So what do we do? Below are some examples of projects carried out recently in our local area.
- Shipton School – the willow domes had got rather out of hand so the wardens were asked to help out. Three domes have been tidied up and new willow put in to replace damaged parts.
- Hedge laying – a member of the Conservation Board staff spent time with the Shipton Volunteers instructing them in the art of hedge laying; the results can be seen beside the cricket ground in Shipton.
- Footpath improvements – some hard-core has been added to the footpath known as Lancutt joining Green Lane and the Lyneham Road in Milton. This always muddy section will now remain passable to walkers all year round.
- Improved access – in Idbury some stiles have been replaced by gates.
- Sheep washes – the sheep washes in both Ascott and Upper Milton have been cleaned out and the information board in Ascott cleaned.
- Coppicing – the hazel in Diggers Wood needs cutting back from time to time. The wood coppiced is used for hedge laying and this treatment means there is always an abundant supply, known as heatherings.
- Parish Wardens – keeping the Public Rights of Way in good order is an ongoing task. As well as reporting any repairs which might need carrying out these are the people who make sure the little blue and yellow waymark discs are visible and in the right place.
- Guided walks – there are 3,000 miles of footpaths to be explored across the Cotswolds and joining a walk with one of the Cotswold Voluntary Warden guided walk leaders means you are likely to find yourself in some delightful hidden corners. You can find out about our walks and lots more about our organisation on www.cotwoldsaonb.org.uk
Achieving so much across this memorable region, we wardens wear our badges with pride!
February – March 2022